Don't Be In A Rush

September 12, 2011

Back And Through: On the tee, think about swinging at the same pace as for a wedge shot.

We're all a little nervous hitting a driver off the first tee or in other pressure situations. The tendency is to speed up the swing, and that makes it harder to hit the ball solidly. The result is a loss of distance and accuracy.

I think about swinging the driver with the same easy pace I swing a wedge. It takes a little longer to swing a driver, but no matter what the club, the tempo should remain consistent.

Jack Nicklaus says you should try to complete your shoulder turn and make your change of direction from backswing to downswing at the same speed -- especially on the first tee. Don't shorten your turn and rush the downswing trying to "steer" the ball in play.

My natural rhythm is fast, but I'm always conscious of that. Under pressure I want to make a full shoulder turn and keep it smooth at the top. Then I can accelerate the club freely through the ball.

A good practice drill is to alternate shots with a wedge and a driver. Work on swinging them at the same pace. In fact, try to swing every club at the same relaxed pace. Then conjure that feeling on the course.

More Thoughts From Tom

I'm asked what keeps me going at age 62. I enjoy the competition and enjoy beating people. I enjoy getting in the hunt and having a chance to win a golf tournament. That's me. It defines me. I'm very fortunate to have a forum in which to conduct my career: the Champions Tour.

WATSON, a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.